I passed through Manchester, New Hampshire the other day.  New Hampshire's largest city, it is a sprawling place, with a downtown badly impacted by Urban Renewal, and the decline of the textile industry that once made it one of the great manufacturing centers of New England.  Despite this, many fine examples of 19th century architecture survive, in varying degrees of preservation, amidst the parking lots and malls.  One that particularly catches my eye is the City Hall, designed in 1845 by the enterprising Edward Shaw of Boston, author of several of the most influential pattern books of his era.

Originally stuccoed, and I'm told by a friend, scored and veined to resemble marble, the building was restored with its warm brick exposed, as it has been for many years.  It once dominated Elm Street, the broad main street of the city, with its rows of low brick commercial structures.  Today, its entrace faces one of Manchester's tallest buildings.

Manchester  Chamber of Commerce

For all the English inspiration of the facades, the belfry could only be American, so distinctive the take on the medieval precedent.

A commercial building next door, probably early 20th century, is a particularly tactful and successful complement to the earlier structure (but too bad about those poorly considered awnings)

Just around the corner, survivors of the earlier mercantile city display the earlier scale

Shaw's pattern books, like those of Asher Benjamin, helped spread the Greek Revival style through New England.  In the 1840's, he caught the Gothic bug, and along with New Yorkers Downing and Vaux, helped popularize the new style.

Above, a plate from Shaw's 'Rural Architecture' (Boston, 1842).  Variations of these designs, most often in wood, are seen across New England.


The Devoted Classicist said...

I am surprised at the building form of the City Hall. It is totally unexpected in regard to my experiences of similar buildings, but interesting none-the-less. Is it an exceptional form for a 19th century municipal building in New England?

Parnassus said...

I enjoyed the pictures of the old Manchester city hall. I kind of like the stuccoed brick in the old photo--that material is emblematic of many buildings of that period, and adds a great deal to their naive charm.
--Road to Parnassus

The Down East Dilettante said...

Devoted, It is a bit unusual form for a city hall--but not unheard of, and doubtless harks back to the days of the all-purpose meeting houses that served as both church and town hall in the earlier days of settlement.

Parnassus, so agrees about the naive charm---exactly what I like about this building.

Unknown said...

All the picture of city hall are really wonderful.I am satisfied to see the picture.Thanks for post.
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